Côtes du Duras
Located right next to the Bordeaux region, the Côtes du Duras region produces wines similar to those of Bordeaux. Sauternes-like sweet whites and red Bordeaux blends are the most common, but dry whites are also produced. In general, the Côtes du Duras region is quite underrated, and encompasses many good-value wines for drinking young. Around 1.25 million cases of wine are produced each year, from vineyards in 15 villages including the eponymous Duras.
Just a hundred years ago, Duras wine was on par with Médoc Bordeauxs in terms of reputation. However, AOC regulators rather arbitrarily decided to separate the two regions when Duras became an AOC in 1937, and limit Bordeaux wines to those produced from vineyards within the Gironde departément. As a result, Duras has become very obscure.
Climate and Viticulture
As far as weather goes, the climate of Côtes du Duras is the same as that of Bordeaux due to their proximity. However, there are some notable differences in soil; Côtes du Duras' vineyards are made up of chalky clay, rather than the limestone and gravel so prominent in Bordeaux's.
Côtes du Duras grape varieties are the same as those of Bordeaux. For red wines, four grapes are allowed: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Malbec. White wines mainly use Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle, but a few other grapes are also allowed. The red wines usually are fresh and fruity with simple but pleasant flavors, while in contrast the white wines are more powerful than Bordeauxs at the same price point.
This is one of those appellations where the wines are pretty solid in general. However, one producer in particular distinguishes itself:
- Mouthes le Bihan: Likely the most pedigreed and widely seen of Côtes du Duras producers, this producer has a wide range of very good wines that transcend the appellation. Among reds, the Merlot-based cuvée Vieillefont is particularly good, while the pricier MRPF is a Sauternes-style blend.